These Girls' Appalling Yearbook Photo Is Going Viral for the Worst Possible Reason

January 22nd 2016

Taylor Bell

A group of students at Desert Vista High School in Arizona are stirring up controversy after a picture of them spelling out the racial slur "nigger" hit social media on Friday, NBC affiliate 12 News in Phoenix reports.

The girls had originally worn shirts to pose for their senior class photo but did not spell out the racial slur at that time. But shortly after that photo was taken, the girls uploaded this image of themselves to social media, a move that outraged many. The photo, which has a small circle in the bottom right corner, indicates that it was first posted on Snapchat, and has since gone viral on Twitter and Facebook, AZ Central reports.

Immediately the school denounced the girls' actions. A school spokesperson told 12 News that the the photo did not reflect the school's beliefs, and that at the time, no faculty members saw or approved of the girls' decision to arrange themselves to display a racial slur.

The school district also condemned the image and immediately took disciplinary action.

Jill Hanks, executive director of community relations for Tempe Union High School District, told ABC15 the following in an emailed statement:

"We are absolutely aware and outraged by this behavior. The students will be disciplined in accordance with district policy and while we don't discuss specific discipline I can tell you that will be addressing the obvious need for sensitivity training in this case."

The girls were reportedly handed down a five-day suspension, although it's unclear from school officials what the exact punishment might be. But for some, that was not enough of a punishment.

But whether or not the girls were joking, the school has previously had an incident with racial insensitivity. In 2014, a teacher alleged she faced racial discrimination by students and that administrators who failed to address the issue, ABC 15 reports.